Constructive feedback, both positive and negative is crucial to an employee’s development and performance. Without feedback, it is as good as walking blind as in such a scenario, an employee either accidentally reaches his goal or wanders aimlessly through the dark, never reaching the destination.
One of the most critical components of successful performance management is effective and timely feedback which should be used in conjunction with setting performance goals. Employee performance starts improving with effective feedback given on their progress towards their goals. It is vital for people to know how they’re doing at regular intervals. The source of feedback could vary viz. managers and supervisors, measurement systems, peers and customers just to name a few.
Better feedback impacts business results in the following ways:
- Feedback helps improve job performance while promoting professional and personal growth in employees.
- Feedback can improve employee morale
- Feedback is an opportunity to provide clarity regarding expectations and current performance
- Feedback works as a way of continuous learning
- Feedback is a critical component of a successful performance management program
However, there are certain elements that ensure its effectiveness with the foremost being:
Specificity: When related to specific goals, feedback works best. The key to providing tangible objective and powerful feedback is to establish employee performance expectations and goals before the work begins. Telling employees that they are doing well because they exceeded their goal by 10% is more effective than simply saying “you’re doing a good job.”
Timeliness: The feedback should be given to them as timely as possible. This will enable them to correct themselves at an early stage if there is any improvement required. If employees have reached or exceeded a goal, the sooner they receive positive feedback, the more rewarding it is to them.
Manner: The tactic adopted to give the feedback should be such that it works towards improving performance. The feedback whether positive and negative, should be presented in a positive way as people respond better to positivity. However one has to make sure that the information is not sugar-coated-it must be accurate, factual, and complete. When presented, however, feedback is more effective when it reinforces what the employee did right and then identifies what needs to be done in the future. Constant criticism eventually will fall upon deaf ears.
There are certain kinds of feedback that occur naturally while others must be planned carefully and communicated cautiously. The feedback occurring naturally can be classified into two categories. The first type is the self-evident feedback. This is the kind of feedback which the employees are also aware of as they do their work. Another category that represents automatic feedback is that which is gained by having a broader scope of work. The broader the scope of work an employee has, the better the employee can determine the quality of the finished product. For example, a writer/editor assigned to write a portion of an article may have been satisfied with the section he wrote. On the other hand, if he’d been responsible for the entire article, he would have seen that his section had no co-relation to the rest of the article and had to be rewritten.
The second category of feedback is the one that is carefully planned and is designed to be given often and automatically through a measurement system. There are many work processes designed to provide performance measures daily such as production or printing process and the number of copies printed etc. Employees can measure for themselves how they and their team are doing through this system.
Organisations will be more operative if effective feedback is designed into a performance managementprogramme. Individual and team performance will significantly improve. Such feedback processes will ensure motivation among employees which in turn augments productivity and culminates in long-term sustenance and growth of an organisation.
Human Resource Director, Xavient, India